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Helsinki Builds School of Future in City's Smart District
The Kalasatama school has no traditional classrooms and desks
By: City of Helsinki
The Kalasatama Comprehensive School, opened in August 2016, was designed by JKMM Architects of Helsinki to support concepts of new pedagogy including non-traditional learning environments. The Helsinki school reform program has designated the school as the pilot school of "desk-less learning": students have no personal desks, and the learning spaces are adaptive, organized by function rather than by traditional classrooms, allowing flexible groupings. Desk-less learning makes extensive use of digital technology.
The schoolhouse is divided into learning complexes, each of which is centered around a large communal space. This space is organized like a campfire around a bright-red central structure of creative seating. Smaller rooms open to the communal space. The rooms are furnished with lightweight tables and chairs, even beanbag chairs and exercise balls, which can be grouped in various ways.
Spaces are separated by large windows to allow visibility over the entire learning complex, which includes the teachers' room. Maintenance areas and building technology are visible to allow for a holistic learning experience. Noise is controlled with acoustic solutions and sound masking. A water station serving the entire learning complex is placed like a well in the communal space to underscore the village-like atmosphere.
The Kalasatama school now comprises grades 1–2 but will expand by 2020 to include all grades (1–9) of comprehensive school, which is the universal, public school system of Finland. The schoolhouse is adjoined by a daycare center and includes a kindergarten, allowing children to proceed from toddler-care through compulsory education in one place.
The desk-less learning concept supports phenomenon-based learning in particular. Many of the phenomena studied at the Kalasatama school are provided by the surrounding district, which reinforces the futuristic outlook of the school through the Smart Kalasatama project.
The school joins Smart Kalasatama in the project's program to develop smart services for residents with the help of agile rapid experiments. For example, the school has participated in a well-being experiment to develop a video-call app that allows people to consult specialists in challenging life situations, such as child upbringing in the Raised a Monster chat.
The school has joined communal ideation for smart solutions and new uses of the area. It joins a Smart Kalasatama project to improve resource-efficiency by giving the community access to school facilities after school hours.
Kalasatama is under construction on former harbor and industrial land. The district is projected to grow from the current 2,000 to 20,000 residents and to provide 8,000 jobs by 2030. The urban structure will be dense. The development and density make Kalasatama an opportune platform to co-create smart urban infrastructure and services.
Video of learning at the school:
Smart Kalasatama: http://fiksukalasatama.fi/
City of Helsinki